F1 Pro Championship: Season Overview, Teams, Drivers & Predictions
The F1 Pro Championship is a highlight for esports racing fans and forms an integral part of the F1 Esports calendar, following on from the Pro Exhibition which took place this season in July. While the previous year’s Championship took place from October to December, this year the official calendar is set to be revealed some time in September, with tensions high among the competing teams.
Let’s through this event, and preview the upcoming F1 Esports season.
The F1 Esports Series was announced back in August of 2017 and through a pandemic and developments thanks to motorsports, both real and virtual, embracing the remote approach, the championship has been held remotely for the past two years. The series could potentially be making a LAN return this season however, having previously been held at venues such as the iconic Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and the Gfinity Esports Arena in the UK.
Where to Watch F1 Esports Series Live?
The F1 Esports Series is primarily hosted on Twitch on their official channel, with their events also being mirrored to platforms like YouTube. Twitch seems the more popular and convenient option, with the event only growing larger having achieved over 23 million views across the 2021 season, a 103% increase.
F1 Esports Series – Calendar, Format & Structure
Firstly, the Open Qualification for the series is held entirely remotely, and can be entered into by all players of all platforms. Drivers compete in a large-scale leaderboard, with the fastest players making it through to the Exhibition.
After the qualifiers have concluded, the best drivers of the previous stage are then entered into a draft for teams to lock in driver rosters heading into the Pro Championship, as well as certain drivers partaking in a set of three pre-season races in the Pro Exhibition.
Thomas Ronhaar triumphantly won the Pro Exhibition this year with 61 points (Their next competitor, Luke Smith, only had 49) and has subsequently put themselves on the radar alongside other. Exhibition drivers like Jake Benham, Tomek Poradzisz (Now confirmed to be driving for Alfa Romeo this season) and Samuel Bean who signed with Alpine Esports in July, a testament to the ever-competitive drivers’ market.
Finally, once all teams have locked in their rosters, the Pro Championship is held through 4 individual events, with each event playing host to three races each and the Championship spanning 12 races total. The races themselves comprise of full Practice and Qualifying sessions as well as a 35% distance race using a custom build of the game, for fairness of competition and assumedly with alterations for the viewer experience also, not too dissimilar to the approach of games like VALORANT.
F1 Esports Teams
Ten teams compete over the official season, and for the most part are divisions operating identically to or within their real life motorsport counterparts.
- Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN F1 Esports Team
- Alpine Esports Team
- Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team
- Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team (Previously FDA Esports)
- McLaren Shadow
- Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team
- Red Bull Racing Esports
- Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports Team
- Haas F1 Team Esports
- Williams Esports
With teams like Scuderia Ferrari retaining largely familiar rosters from their prior season, compared to Alfa Romeo who have taken a completely new lineup, teams are making full use of the additional potential of a three driver roster, as teams are able to pick any two-driver lineup before heading into a race.
Here are the key moves ahead of the 2022 Championship:
- Alfa Romeo Esports announced a completely fresh roster for 2022, composed of Dani Bereznay from McLaren Shadow, Nicolas Longuet who parted ways with Alpine, and Tomek Poradzisz.
- Following a partnership with the Swiss cryptocurrency firm, FDA Esports have renamed to Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team and have retained their two championship winners (David Tonizza and Brendon Leigh) alongside new arrival Fabrizio Donoso.
- Alpine Esports have signed two new arrivals to the team to join Patrik Sipos, those new arrivals being Samuel Bean (a completely new arrival to the pro circuit this season) and Filip Prešnajder, a series veteran.
- Five teams have yet to reveal their rosters for the Season at time of writing – McLaren Shadow, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports, Red Bull Racing Esports, Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports and Haas F1 Team Esports.
The prize pool currently stands at $750,000, with the winnings being divided up proportionally to performance – the team champions taking the biggest cut of that pot as well as taking home the F1 Esports Series Team Trophy.
Expectations for F1 22 and the new season
In terms of the league itself, the series and drivers have a new challenge – a very new game. F1 22 is a very different driving experience from games prior, mirroring the technical regulations overhaul the sport received this season. While the game does not go all the way to simulate effects like porpoising, these cars are still considered different beasts and have vastly different characteristics. Drivers will have to lean on their ability to adapt more than ever.
On a pedigree level, Ferrari currently are a team to watch – Their lineup is the most decorated on the grid, with two of the 3 Drivers’ Champions in their roster (The only other Drivers’ Champion being Jarno Opmeer) and the most collective Grand Prix and victories of any team announced for the season so far. With a clear intent in their press release to be a team fighting at the front of the field and renewed confidence this year spur on their title fight hopes, things look strong from the onset for the virtual Prancing Horse.
Another team to watch would be Mercedes-AMG Esports, given their roster was exceptionally strong last year and looks to be retaining that roster for this season, if not certainly their star driver Jarno Opmeer, two-time Drivers’ Champion and looking to defend for a third time. We will watch the season ahead with great interest, where we will continue to break down and predict the future of the exciting races ahead.